We can exchange our products and be in a win-win situation. So, the trade deal will definitely bring good results, said Nepal Foreign Minister Gyawali
Bangladesh and Nepal have agreed to sign a free trade agreement to boost bilateral trade.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi made the announcement after a meeting with Nepal Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali at the former's office on Monday.
The two countries will hold a secretary-level meeting in Dhaka on March 3 and 4 this year to get the deal signed.
A combined team will also be formed to work out the pros and cons of the agreement, Munshi said.
Gyawali came to Dhaka on a three-day visit on Monday.
"We are at the final stage of signing a free trade agreement with Nepal," Munshi told reporters, without giving any specific time for the deal.
He also said the Nepal foreign minister is very keen to use Bangladesh's Syedpur Airport for their import and export business. They are also allowed to use transit facilities via Bangladesh.
Nepal can also use Bangladesh's waterways, Munshi added.
The commerce minister expects the bilateral trade volume to increase after the free trade agreement is signed.
Munshi said Bangladesh exported products worth $38 million to the Himalayan country and imported goods worth around $18 million last year.
The major items exported from Bangladesh to land-locked Nepal include agricultural products, jute and jute goods, engineering products, pharmaceutical products, paper and paper board, cotton, chemical products, ceramic products, glass and glassware and others.
Bangladesh mainly imports vegetable products, prepared foodstuff, beverages, spirits and vinegar, tobacco, zinc articles, chemical products, sulphur, lime and cement, man-made staple fibre and soya bean oil from Nepal.
"Nepal is interested in signing a deal with Bangladesh for free trade. I see huge possibilities in doing business between the two countries," said Nepal Foreign Minister Gyawali.
"Both Nepal and Bangladesh share a similar culture, and the counties also have similar potentials. We can exchange our products and be in a win-win situation. So the trade deal will definitely bring good results," he affirmed.
"Nepal has been generating hydropower. We would like to export our hydropower to Bangladesh. Actually everything is possible if we sign the free trade agreement," the Nepalese minister said.
It is a must to continue focusing on relationship, especially on business, for the development of the two countries, he said, adding that the relationship should be permanent.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh recently reached a decision over signing bilateral free trade agreements with Bhutan and Thailand after a series of discussions over two decades with both the nations.
Fresh talks to sign free trade deals with 17 other countries, including the United States, Turkey, China, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, are also in the pipeline.
According to the South Asian Free Trade Area (Safta), Nepal now maintains a list of 998 sensitive products for least developed countries (LDCs), and 1,036 sensitive products for non-LDCs that are not entitled to preferential trade benefits.
Bangladesh also maintains a list of 987 sensitive products for LDCs, and 993 sensitive products for non-LDCs.